A Democratic activist supporting Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced Tuesday that he was “stepping back” from his work after conservative provocateur James O’Keefe released an edited video suggesting that he and his staffers tried to incite violence at some of Donald Trump’s campaign rallies.
Democracy Partners employee Robert Creamer, who worked on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, announced that he was resigning in response to the video from O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas Action.
“I am unwilling to become a distraction to the important task of electing Hillary Clinton, and defeating Donald Trump in the upcoming election,” Creamer told CNN in a statement. “As a result I have indicated to the Democratic National Committee that I am stepping back from my responsibilities working with the campaign.”
In the video, Creamer and other Democratic operatives can be heard describing sending protesters to Trump events to antagonize his supporters. Scott Foval, national field director for Americans United for Change, describes on camera how easy it is to bait the Republican nominee’s backers into violence.
“I mean, honestly, it’s not hard to get some of these assholes to pop off,” Foval purportedly says at one point. “It’s a matter of showing up, to want to get into their rally, in a Planned Parenthood T-shirt. Or ‘Trump is a Nazi,’ you know. You can message to draw them out, and draw them out to punch you.”
Foval has been fired over the comments in the video, which Creamer insisted were never acted upon, according to CNN.
O’Keefe and his team have faced criticism in the past for misleadingly editing footage to create false accusations about Democratic groups. In 2013, the conservative activist paid $100,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by employees of the now-defunct Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, after a video released by his group led to the dismissal of some employees and the dissolution of the community organizing group. Prosecutors later discovered that O’Keefe’s video was heavily edited and found no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of ACORN employees.
O’Keefe also pled guilty in 2010 to breaking into the office of former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in order to tamper with her phone.
The DNC and Clinton campaign noted O’Keefe’s tarnished reputation in response to the latest Project Veritas video.
Interim DNC chair Donna Brazile told CNN that O’Keefe was a “convicted criminal with a history of doctoring video to advance his ideological agenda” and said there was no evidence “that the activities articulated in the video actually occurred.”
A number of violent outbursts have been recorded at Trump campaign events during the 2016 race. Incidents include an elderly man sucker-punching a black protester at a North Carolina rally in March, a Trump supporter hitting a protester as he was escorted out of a Arizona rally days later, and a 69-year-old woman getting knocked to the ground by a Trump fan at another North Carolina event in September event in Asheville.
Trump backers and protesters have clashed with each other outside other events in California, with both sides throwing food and punches.